From Midtown East to UWS: I wanted to live near Central Park, my favorite place in the world

  • Rick enjoys daily walks and adventures in Central Park in all kinds of weather; 'it feeds my soul'
  • He’s a lifelong renter and landed a $9,600 two bedroom at Anagram, a new development
By Kelly Kreth  |
June 14, 2024 - 9:30AM
Transitions Ricl moves East Midtown to UWS

The "classic million-dollar NYC view" from Anagram Columbus Circle is one of the reasons Rick enjoys living there.

Wanting more space and to be closer to his beloved Central Park, Rick and his partner went hunting for a new rental. He landed at Anagram, an amenity-laden new development, and finds being close to the park makes life more invigorating. Here’s Rick’s story as told to Kelly Kreth.

I was born in New York City. When I was a baby, my family lived in Stuyvesant Town. We moved to the NYC suburbs when I was one, where we lived until I was 13. My family then moved to Chicago, but New York has always felt like home. We took many trips into the city for school and as a family when I was growing up.

Most recently I was living in Midtown East with my long-time girlfriend, who grew up in Brooklyn. These days, we split our time between Minneapolis and NYC. Two of my three children and all four of my grandchildren live in Minneapolis. I would never give up the closeness I have with them and we both love being in NYC enough to want to spend half our time here.

[Editor's note: Brick Underground's series “Transitions” features first-person accounts of what it’s like to move from one New York City neighborhood to another. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]

Our one-bedroom rental was $7,600 a month. It had nice finishes and an in-unit washer dryer.

The building has a small gym, party room, and a small, shared patio. I liked that it was a brand-new building. The gym was just okay, and I never used the other amenity spaces.

The apartment itself was well designed, with nice finishes. There was nothing I really disliked about the apartment or the building, but the lack of a second bedroom made it hard to host guests.

The neighborhood was quiet at night because there were no other residential buildings or businesses on the block. It was a relatively convenient location.

There really was not much to do in the immediate area. My favorite local restaurants were My Pie Pizza and Lilli & Loo, both on Lexington. Grocery shopping was at the Whole Foods on East 57th.

I work from home; I handle the legal and financial aspects for a tech startup.

Wanted: A two bedroom near Central Park

Last July we decided to move. We wanted a second bedroom and I longed to be close to Central Park. It’s my favorite place in the whole world, and I walk there daily. Our apartment was about a half mile from it, and I had to walk through a very busy commercial section of Midtown. I also wanted to be in a residential neighborhood, with more options for groceries and shopping.

Most of the rental options on the East Side were even farther away from the park, with many newer, comparably priced, high amenity buildings in and near the Murray Hill neighborhood.

I searched StreetEasy. I viewed only two apartments and the actual search process took only a couple of weeks. I viewed a place on West End Avenue and 60th Street. The building was nice enough, but it felt isolated.

Anagram Columbus Circle was the other building I found enticing. It is dead center in the heart of everything I wanted to be near. And I was totally sold after seeing a model apartment there, which was the unit I rented.

By September, we settled in our two bedroom for $9,600 a month, which is at the high end of our budget but doable. Our new place is $2,000 a month more than what we were paying before, but we love having an additional bedroom.  

What he loves about his new place

The new building is new, has a fantastic gym plus other amenities, as well as a high-end design and finishes, and an outstanding staff. I am in the gym six days a week in the morning before work. I’m able to do everything I could possibly want to do, exercise-wise. Unlike commercial gyms that are typically overcrowded, this gym is used only by residents, and is never crowded. This makes my workouts more pleasant and relaxing.

The views, especially from the roof deck at dusk, are another favorite.

I have a great city view from my apartment looking east, including Columbus Circle, and all the super-tall buildings along 57th and 58th streets. The view from the roof deck is a classic, million-dollar NYC view. I can see a wide, green swath of Central Park, an interesting stretch up Broadway to the North, and even a stretch of the Hudson River to the West. 

There are a couple of small, private workspaces on the second floor, which I use when we have company in our second bedroom, which is my office when there are no guests. There are numerous activities every month, free of charge. They try hard to make us happy to be here, not just merely satisfied.

What he thinks of the nabe

Anagram offers the proximity to the park and to what I consider to be the best parts of the Upper West Side and Hell’s Kitchen. By cutting out the normal tumult of getting through the city to get to the park, my daily walks have become even more refreshing, and invigorating.

For example, on a cold Saturday morning in March, I went for a walk in the park. There was a steady rain, and the park was the emptiest I had ever seen it. If I still lived a half mile from the park like before, I would have skipped going to the park that particular day.

But since I was only one block away, I went. I came upon a group of young people standing together, despite the awful weather. Suddenly a young man in the group dropped down to one knee and said something to a young woman with her back to me. A couple of seconds later, he leapt up, reached both hands to the sky, turned to me with a big smile and shouted out, "She said yes!"

Seeing snippets of other people’s lives like this feeds my soul.

I also go to Zabar’s at least once a week, and the Northwell Health Urgent Care at Amsterdam and 69th when I need to see a doctor quickly. Fleet Feet at Columbus Circle is another favorite for walking shoes and athletic wear. The Whole Foods at Columbus Circle is across the street and is way larger than the Whole Foods in my old neighborhood, with considerably more choices for healthy prepared food.

A couple of favorite nearby eateries are Burrito Box and El Centro Restaurant. The AMC Lincoln Square theatre is just a few blocks away on Broadway.

While I still work remotely, there are five subway lines with service to Columbus Circle, so I can get anywhere easily.

Family and friends have visited, and they love the new place and how convenient it is. My girlfriend’s younger son, his wife, and their two-year-old daughter stayed with us a few days. They loved the apartment and the location. 

We will absolutely stay at Anagram for as long as it makes financial sense to do so. I am a renter by choice, and will probably remain so for the rest of my life. I greatly prefer the freedom and flexibility of renting, and do not want to be burdened by owning something. I don’t want to get caught in a market that makes a timely exit untenable.

In terms of quality of life and personal happiness, picking Anagram Columbus Circle as my new home ranks as one of the best decisions of my life. 

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Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

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